DETROIT -- The ouster of General Motors Co. CEO Fritz Henderson prompted hundreds of comments on the Automotive News Web site, but certainly no consensus of opinion.
Some readers are unabashedly critical of Henderson's performance in his eight-month tenure.
“He was old GM, slow, and messed up the Saturn, Saab and Opel deals,” writes Dyno.
A terminated GM dealer, C Wil, says: “What goes around comes around,” adding, “I sure hope he gets the compensation that I got.”
But Henderson also gets some support, or at least sympathy.
“I sort of feel for Fritz” because he “got dropped into the toughest job ever at GM after former CEO Rick Wagoner was fired” March 30, writes DR. “Fritz has put on a good face and sounded good since, but in the end he was a GM lifer.” He expects Henderson to end up running an automaker or supplier after “a few deserved months relaxing on the beach.”
Some see Henderson as a scapegoat, a fall guy who was necessary long enough to fire dealers so a new CEO could take over without that baggage.
“Certain roles have been carefully scripted and Henderson's tenure was never likely to extend into GM's future,” writes Madlock. “Henderson's CEO role was always a bit, albeit essential, part. His vision or ability to lead a new GM were irrelevant.”
Whacks at Whitacre
Critics also lambasted the man who fired Henderson, GM Chairman Ed Whitacre, and his nonautomotive background as a former CEO of AT&T. Whether Whitacre can run an automaker is uncertain, Maxwell Chalmerswrites. “He spent a career at a company with a little technology and a lot of marketing gimmicks. Now he'll have to make decisions of the long term.”
Many offer free advice to Whitacre -- mostly that he rehire terminated GM dealers, but for a variety of rationales. Do it to rebuild trust, writes US owns GM. Do it to restore market share, argues lifetime car guy. Do it even if it was a solid business move because “you can only fight so many battles at the same time,” says Iowa H-BR.
Some argue that other problems are more important than who runs the company.
“Until flooring and retail credit is readily made available, it's wishful thinking to believe an individual can lead GM or any other automotive manufacturer back to profitability,” writes Richard Carpenter.
Others say brooming Henderson is not enough. “More managers need to be replaced,” says hunter89123, a former GM manager now working on the retail side. The whole GM management team should go because “none of the managers actually ran a dealership to understand what the dealers are going through.”
But the outpouring of commentary on the Henderson story didn't even slow comment on other unrelated stories. Apparently, even the firing of a GM CEO can't command total attention.
As CarCzar313 puts it: “Yesterday's news. Let's move on. NEXT!”
Jesse Snyder is community editor of Automotive News.